Movie: Those of you who are fans of the comedian Adam Sandler will likely forgive him almost any trespass. I should know since I'm one of those fans and have been for years. Sandler is known mostly for his variety of characters on Saturday Night Live and a host of juvenile movies like Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, and others. In almost every case, his humor is focused at the very lowest common denominator with a host of fart jokes, fecal humor, and jokes that stoners find funny (as long as they have a decent sized stash laying about). If you like what amounts to guilty pleasure laughs, his movies will appeal to you for those days when you just want to turn off your brain and enjoy yourself. That said, I'll now take a look at Adam's most flawed movie to date, an animated comedy called Eight Crazy Nights.
The movie centered on a 30-something jerk, Davey Stone (Sandler), who is singularly the worst citizen of a small town in modern day New England. He routinely steals, gets drunk, and acts like his antics harm no one. As the holiday season approaches, he gets caught stealing and leads the police on a reckless chase through the town. After destroying much of the town, the police nab him and off he goes to jail. At his hearing, he is sentenced to ten years in the state penitentiary until an old man, Whitey Duvall (Sandler), from his past intercedes on his behalf. The judge gives Davey the warning that if he breaks any laws, off he'll go to jail. Whitey, being forced to retire at the ripe old age of 70 from his volunteer basketball refereeing job, forces Davey to help him referee games, since he used to be a talented player himself.
As Davey's antics continue, and his contempt for those around him put on full display, it becomes obvious that he has a bitter secret that led to his life of crime and delinquency. With a nod to infamous losers throughout cinematic history such as Scrooge, the Grinch, and other bitter men, the movie changes the typical focus from Christmas to the festival of lights, Chanukah. The title Eight Crazy Nights derives from the fact that the holiday lasts 8 nights and while I think labeling them as "crazy" might be a bit weird, so is Sandler's humor (he took the name from his song).
Okay, my first, and biggest, problem with the movie was not the limited animation used to make the movie, nor was it the extremely lame songs used in this "sort of" musical comedy, but the fact that the writing was so weak and the jokes so stupid that even a true blue fan of Sandler such as myself thought he hit what amounts to a new low. While I'd give him credit for new uses of fecal matter, the jokes were so tepid as to inspire me to wonder if Sandler really was a co-writer here. The songs really were outright terrible, making me itch for my remote control every time someone started singing. The character of Davey was in no way sympathetic and the obligatory conversion to good so uninspiring and unbelievable that I wondered if the production ran out of money, or more likely time (to make it ready for the holiday season).
The overuse of Sandler's voice acting (cough) at the expense of such notables as the talented Jon Lovitz, Rob Schneider, and Kevin Nealon (all SNL regulars over the years), made the whole movie seem like an ego trip too which would have been okay with better material. Davey came off as mean in virtually every scene and without something to like, which means anything else is less than funny or likable, the premise of the movie falls flat on its face far too often.
Rather than beat a dead horse, and I could go on for pages at the flaws here, let's just say that comedy, like taste, is very subjective. In this case, as a loyal fan, I feel much more comfortable dismissing this as a movie Sandler had almost nothing to do with rather than accept it for its many flaws as a piss poor attempt to entertain. It's a shame that the extras were so good compared to the feature itself with the audio commentaries both surpassing it in entertainment value as did the various other cool stuff this DVD had. In conclusion, the fairest rating I can give this clunker is to Skip It.
Picture: The picture was presented with a choice of either 1.85:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen or a 1.33:1 full frame version for those who hate those nasty "black bars" at the top and bottom of the screen. For the most part, the colors and animation were well done (if limited) with no major grain or other visual defects.
Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of 5.1 Dolby Digital English or Dolby Surround French with optional subtitles in either language. Aside from the lack of quality of the content itself, the movie sounded good with solid separation between the channels and deep lows.
Extras: This is the area where this two disc set shined above all others. The two audio commentaries (one of cast members in character, the other that addressed technical matters), a short film "A Day With The Meatball", a clip of the "Chanukah Song Part 3" from Saturday Night Live, a commercial for the NBA, trailers, cast biographies, deleted scenes with commentaries, a host of short featurettes, a special on the animation style and how it was developed, an HBO special on the behind the scenes of the movie making, and a paper insert that listed the chapters.
Final Thoughts: I'm a big fan of animation, Adam Sandler, and holiday movies but this one was so bad as to test even my loyalties. Sandler needs to stick to live action movies since his voice acting skills are even weaker than his regular acting abilities and if he had lightened up in the writing, the characterization, and the themes of the show, it might have been sappy, but enjoyable, to watch. As a side note, I think the blatant product placements during several key scenes were remarkably ballsy and offensive too.